Audience members dance to the stylings of the Sun Messengers Aug. 23 at the Burgh Historical Park during the annual Senior Appreciation Night.

Audience members dance to the stylings of the Sun Messengers Aug. 23 at the Burgh Historical Park during the annual Senior Appreciation Night.

File photo by Sean Work

COSA shares update on age-friendly effort, community conversation set for Sept. 12

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published September 5, 2018


SOUTHFIELD — For over a year, the Commission on Senior Adults has been on a mission to designate Southfield as an Age Friendly Community. 

The commission will host its third community conversation to address the needs of seniors 6-8 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Southfield Pavilion, 26000 Evergreen Road. 

At the Aug. 27 City Council meeting, commission Chair Karen Schrock provided an update on the group’s recent efforts. 

In June 2017, the city, along with officials from AARP, hosted a kickoff event to launch a five-year project to become an AARP-designated Age Friendly Community, making Southfield a welcoming place for seniors. 

The Commission on Senior Adults is a city-led organization whose goal is to present recommendations and information to the mayor and the City Council based on studies and investigations to help the city address the needs, concerns and problems of senior adults living in Southfield.
The group works closely with city departments and local agencies that serve the senior community, monitors state and federal legislation, and serves as an educational link to services and resources, Southfield officials said. 

With 40 percent of city residents over the age of 50, the time to act is now, officials said. The entire process will take around five years, according to officials. 

At the kickoff event, AARP officials discussed the eight domains that designate a community as age friendly. The domains are identified as outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication and information, community support, and health services. 

Attendees of the June 2017 event were split up into eight groups — one for each domain — for roundtable discussions and to provide input on how Southfield can improve that particular domain. 

Schrock said previously that the events allow members of each of the eight groups to discuss how Southfield is doing in their particular focus area. 

The group hosted a second community conversation in March. Attendees again split into groups and discussed one of the eight domains. Each person filled out a questionnaire, which the Commission on Senior Adults board used to do an evaluation for the next community conversation. 

Schrock said the Commission on Senior Adults last updated the council on its efforts at the start of 2018. 

“Since our presentation in January, we’ve continued to address the needs of seniors in our community,” Schrock said. “We have several requests of council and the mayor related to our work on creating an age-friendly community in Southfield.

“First, we would like you to endorse the request to the next governor to make Michigan an age-friendly state,” she said. “We would like you to attend community conversations and provide input on how to become more age friendly.”

Schrock also suggested that the council encourage members of the business community, local medical professionals and residents to join the Commission on Senior Adults. 

Updating the council on the Commission on Senior Adults’ efforts, Schrock said the group holds monthly meetings that include stakeholder presentations. Crime Stoppers, St. John Health System, Mayor Ken Siver and World Medical Relief have all made presentations at the meetings. 

The group went on a retreat to plan its next steps with a representative of the Michigan AARP and submitted its first annual report to the AARP. 

The Commission on Senior Adults currently has 11 members, Schrock said. It needs three more members to achieve its full 15 memberships.

“So this time next year, we’ll have our plan for an age-friendly Southfield,” Schrock said. 

Council President Dan Brightwell spoke of his support for the  movement. 

“I’m 100 percent supportive of (the community conversation). It means a lot to our citizens, and it means a lot to the future of the city of Southfield,” he said. 

Siver said at the meeting that because of the work of the commission, he was invited Aug. 3 to go to the Michigan AARP headquarters in Lansing to serve on a panel with the mayors of Jackson and East Lansing. 

Councilman Myron Frasier presented an idea to Schrock at the meeting. 

“There are an awful lot of seniors that are living alone in their homes, and they may not have any family near or they may not be close to other people in their neighborhood,” he said. “And I was suggesting that maybe it would be an idea for (the commission) to at least investigate what it would take to have a calling tree or adopt a senior to just call once a week to find out of they’re still doing OK, or if they have a problem, or something you could refer to the city that here’s one of your residents that has an issue and perhaps they need something that maybe one of our other committees could handle.”

Schrock said the group has been looking into helping isolated seniors. Two of the domain groups — health and community service — have been discussing the topic. 

“If we’re going to be age friendly, we have to make sure that we reach out to them,” she said. 

To register for the Sept. 12 event, call Human Services Coordinator Rhonda Terry at (248) 796-4540 or email rterry@cityofsouth